Indy 500 – Special Awards
Over the years, numerous special awards have been presented to drivers and participants at the Indianapolis 500. The following is a list of some of the notable “special awards” (past & present) and the recipients throughout Indy history.
Scott Brayton Driver’s Trophy
Driver Scott Brayton arrived at Indy and first qualified in 1981. He won the pole position two times (1995 & 1996) and also set a 1-lap qualifying track record in 1985 (started 2nd). He had a best finish of 6th in both 1989 and 1993. During Time Trials in 1996, Brayton dramatically withdrew his already-qualified car and made a last-ditch effort in a back-up car for the pole position. Brayton won the pole, his second-consecutive Indy 500 pole. Six days later, Brayton was testing a Menard team back-up car. His car suffered a rapidly-deflated right rear tire, and crashed hard in turn two. Tragically, Brayton was killed of a basal skull fracture at the age of 37.
Following his tragic death, an award was created in Brayton’s memory. Beginning in 1997, the Scott Brayton Driver’s Trophy was introduced, and presented to the driver who ‘best exemplifies the attitude, spirit, and competitive drive of Scott Brayton’. The prize was $25,000 and a trophy, and could actually be given to a driver who missed the race. In the first three years, it was presented prior to the race during the Public Drivers Meeting, handed out by Scott’s father Lee Brayton. Starting in 2000, it was presented after the race at the Victory Banquet. A driver could win the award only one time in their career.
- 1997 — John Paul Jr.
- 1998 — Roberto Guerrero
- 1999 — Eliseo Salazar
- 2000 — Eddie Cheever
- 2001 — Davey Hamilton
- 2002 — Arie Luyendyk
- 2003 — Buddy Lazier
- 2004 — Helio Castroneves
- 2005 — Kenny Bräck
- 2006 — Sam Hornish Jr.
- 2007 — Tony Kanaan
- 2008 — Vitor Miera
- 2009 — Sarah Fisher
Several of the drivers won the award based on their determination and perseverance following injury. John Paul Jr., Eliseo Salazar, Davey Hamilton, and Kenny Bräck were all drivers who suffered major injuries in racing crashes, but recuperated and returned to the cockpit. Two drivers (Helio Castroneves and Sam Hornish Jr.) won the Scott Brayton Award and the race in the same year. After 2009, the award was quietly retired.
Jim Clark Award
In May 1969, the Britannia Club of Indianapolis created an award to honor the memory of the late Formula One World Champion and 1965 Indianapolis 500 winner Jim Clark. In April 1968, Clark of Scotland was killed in a crash at Hockenheim, Germany. The award was to be presented to the driver or contributor (current or former) “by virtue of his example on and off the Indianapolis 500 Speedway, and his contributions to competitive motor racing, has best exemplified the spirit shown in his lifetime by Jim Clark”. For over a decade, the Jim Clark Award was held in high prestige, and the list of recipients include numerous “500” winners and future racing hall of famers.
The award was usually presented during the week leading up to the race at an reception or dinner, usually in conjunction with the Indianapolis Press Club. The honoree received a scroll and a special gift – a leather purse with 33 Churchill Crowns (representing the 33 starters). In addition, the honorees were given tartan sport jackets to wear during the ceremonies. The previous year’s winner would be invited to serve as the chairman of the selection committee, and all former winners customarily attended the annual reception. Other voters on the committee included members of the media from local newspapers, radio and television stations. Among the master of ceremonies for the popular event over the years were Chuck Marlowe, Donald Davidson, and Tom Carnegie.
The Britannia Club disbanded in 1976. Afterwards, the award was taken over by a standing committee, sponsored by Kroger. The ceremony moved to the Indianapolis Athletic Club, and lasted for several more years, often attended by celebrities and dignitaries. Previous winners of the award were added to the voting panel. The permanent perpetual trophy was housed at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum, and winners were presented with a small replica of the trophy as a keepsake.
- 1969 — Johnny Rutherford
- 1970 — Mario Andretti
- 1971 — Dan Gurney
- 1972 — Peter Revson
- 1973 — Bobby Allison
- 1974 — Peter DePaolo
- 1975 — Wally Dallenbach
- 1976 — Tom Sneva
- 1977 — Clarence Cagle
- 1978 — A. J. Foyt
- 1979 — not given
- 1980 — Rick Mears
- 1981 — Bill Alsup
- 1982 — Al Unser Sr.
- 1983 — Pancho Carter
- 1984 — Sam Hanks
- 1985 — Louis Meyer
- 1986 — Parnelli Jones
- 1987 — Gary Bettenhausen
- 1988 — Emerson Fittipaldi
- 1989 — Danny Sullivan
- 1990 — Bobby Rahal and Bob Collins
- 1991 — Jim Rathmann
- 1992 — Troy Ruttman
- 1993 — Tony George
In 1975, chief mechanic George Bignotti accepted the award on behalf of Wally Dallenbach. The 1978 award winner A.J. Foyt left the track abruptly after Carburetion Day practice to return his his shop in Houston to repair a blown engine. His sponsor and partner Jim Gilmore accepted the award in his absence. The ceremony went on hiatus in 1979, but came back in 1980. In 1981, actor and singer Phil Harris started a semi-tradition by leading the signing of “Back Home Again in Indiana” each year at the reception. In 1990, the award was expanded to two designees, with Bob Collins, sports editor of the The Indianapolis Star, named honorary award winner. After 24 years and 25 recipients, the award was retired after the 1993 race.
Tony Hulman Award
Sponsored by the National Association of Auto Racing Fan Clubs (NAARFC). For “unselfish devotion to the sport of auto racing”. A plaque is periodically on display at Indianapolis Motor Speedway Fame Museum.
- 1977 — George Carpenter
- 1978 — June Swango
- 1979 — Pat Vidan
- 1980 — Tom Bigelow
- 1981 — John Cooper
- 1982 — no award
- 1983 — Donald Davidson
- 1984 — Mary F. Hulman
- 1985 — Tom Binford
- 1986 — Tom Carnegie
- 1987 — Robert Rowe
- 1988 — no award
- 1989 — Joseph R. Cloutier
- 1990 — Derrick Walker
- 1991 — Jim Chapman
- 1992 — Tony Hulman George
- 1993 — Dr. Terry R. Trammell, M.D.
- 1994 — Mel Kenyon
- 1995 — Mario Andretti
- 1996 — Rita Crafton
- 1997 — Leo Mehl
- 1998 — Foar Score Club, Inc. (50th Anniversary, 1948-1998)
- 1999 — Mari Hulman George
- 2000 — Dr. Pat Sullivan
- 2001 — Vito LoPiccolo
- 2002 — Hoosier Auto Racing Fans (50th Anniversary, 1952-2002)
- 2002 — Central Auto Racing Boosters (50th Anniversary, 1952-2002)
- 2003 — Brian Barnhart
- 2004 — Bob Jenkins
- 2005 — Bill Stone
- 2012 — Steve Sapp
11th Row Society
Since 1973, the Indianapolis Press Club has sponsored the Last Row Party to honor the drivers who qualify in the 11th and final row (starting positions 31st-32nd-33rd). The event serves as a fundraiser benefitting the Indianapolis Press Club Foundation, which provides scholarships, awards, and fellowships for journalism students at Indiana colleges and universities.
The event is held as a dinner reception, and serves as a roast for the three drivers. They are inducted into the “11th Row Society” and are traditionally presented with checks of 31¢, 32¢, and 33¢, respectively. Each driver is given a commemorative blazer and sometimes other gifts, and endure some good-natured jokes in a fun and laid-back environment. A collectible T-shirt is created annually featuring a caricature of the three drivers.
Each year, a local member of the media serves as host and “roast-master” for the event. The three drivers who participate are usually (but not necessarily) the three slowest cars in the field. In some years, drivers/cars are moved to the back of the starting grid due to driver and/or chassis switches. In some years these substitute drivers are counted as honorees, but in other years only the three drivers who “earned” their spot in the 11th row are recognized. The party is held on a weeknight during the week leading up to the race.
|1973||Bob Collins||Bob Harkey||Sam Sessions||Jim McElreath|
|1974||Bob Collins||Bob Harkey||Jan Opperman||Larry Cannon|
|1975||Wayne Fuson||Mike Hiss||Eldon Rasmussen||Tom Bigelow|
|1976||John Totten||David Hobbs||Tom Bigelow||Jan Opperman|
|1977||Bill Pittman||John Mahler||Eldon Rasmussen||Bubby Jones|
|1978||Robin Miller||Gary Bettenhausen||Jerry Sneva||Mario Andretti|
|1979||Don Hein||Spike Gehlhausen||John Mahler||Eldon Rasmussender|
|1980||Robin Miller||Tom Bigelow||Gary Bettenhausen||Tom Sneva|
|1981||Robin Miller||Jerry Karl||Mario Andretti-x||Tim Richmond-x|
|1982||Robin Miller||Tom Bigelow||Pete Halsmer||Josele Garza-x|
|1983||Robin Miller||Steve Krisiloff||Chet Fillip||Dennis Firestone|
|1984||Robin Miller||Johnny Rutherford||George Snider||Dennis Firestone|
|1985||Robin Miller||Derek Daly||Kevin Cogan-x||Rich Vogler|
|1986||Robin Miller||Gary Bettenhausen||George Snider||Mario Andretti|
|1987||Robin Miller||Ed Pimm-x||George Snider||Steve Chassey|
|1988||Robin Miller||Ludwig Heimrath Jr.||Rich Vogler||Howdy Holmes|
|1989||Robin Miller||Davy Jones||Pancho Carter||Rich Vogler|
|1990||Robin Miller||Billy Vukovich III||John Paul Jr.||Rocky Moran|
|1991||Robin Miller||Randy Lewis||Pancho Carter||Gordon Johncock|
|1992||Robin Miller||Tom Sneva||Gordon Johncock||Ted Prappas|
|1993||Robin Miller||Jim Crawford||Didier Theys||Eddie Cheever|
|1994||Robin Miller||John Paul Jr.||Mike Groff||Marco Greco|
|1995||Robin Miller||Scott Sharp||Stefan Johansson||Davy Jones|
|1996||Robin Miller||Hideshi Matsuda||Joe Gosek||Scott Harrington|
|1997||Robin Miller||Alessandro Zampedri||Claude Bourbonnais||Paul Durant|
|1998||Dave Wilson||Stephan Gregoire||Mike Groff||Billy Roe|
|1999||Jack Miller||Robbie Buhl||Raul Boesel|
Big John Gillis
|Billy Boat||Lyn St. James||Andy Hillenburg|
|2001||Felipe Giaffone||Cory Witherill||Billy Boat|
|2002||Bob Jenkins||Greg Ray||George Mack||Mark Dismore|
|2003||Bob Jenkins||Robby McGehee||Jimmy Kite||Airton Dare|
|2004||Bob Jenkins||P.J. Jones||Marty Roth||Robby McGehee|
|2005||Bob Jenkins||Jeff Ward||Jimmy Kite||Felipe Giaffone|
|2006||Arie Luyendyk Jr.||P.J. Jones||Thiago Medeiros|
|2007||Roberto Moreno||Richie Hearn||Phil Giebler|
|2008||Bob Jenkins||A.J. Foyt IV||Buddy Lazier||Marty Roth|
|2009||Nelson Philippe||Ryan Hunter-Reay||Alex Tagliani|
|2010||Dave Wilson||Takuma Sato||Tony Kanaan||Sebastian Saavedra|
|2011||Alex Lloyd||Pippa Mann||Ana Beatriz|
|2012||Laura Steele||Bryan Clauson||Simona de Silvestro||Jean Alesi|
|2013||not held||Conor Daly||Buddy Lazier||Katherine Legge|
|2014||Bob Jenkins?||Sage Karam||Sebastian Saavedra||Buddy Lazier|
|Ryan Briscoe||Tristan Vautier||James Davison|
|Jack Hawksworth||Buddy Lazier||Alex Tagliani|
|2017||Lindy Thackston||Sebastian Saavedra||Zach Veach||James Davison|
|2018||Lindy Thackston||Jack Harvey||Alexander Rossi||Conor Daly|
|2019||Lindy Thackston||Sage Karam||James Hinchcliffe||Kyle Kaiser|
|2020||not held||Sage Karam||J.R. Hildebrand||Ben Hanley|
|2021||not held||Sage Karam||Will Power||Simona de Silvestro|
|2022||Lindy Thackston||Christian Lundgaard||Jack Harvey||Stefan Wilson|
|2023||Michael Young||Christian Lundgaard||Sting Ray Robb||Jack Harvey|
x – Denotes that the honoree did not attend the reception.
After 1997, original founders Gerry LaFollette, Art Harris, and David Mannweile, along with many-time emcee Robin Miller, organized the event for the final time. Starting in 1998, the event was moved to the Speedway Motel (“Brickyard Crossing”) and would feature a rotating host.
Additional works cited
- Fox, Jack C., “The Illustrated History of the Indianapolis 500”, Fourth Edition, Carl Hungness Publishing, 1994.
- Popely, Rick, “Indianapolis 500 Chronicle”, Publications International Ltd., 1998.
- The Indianapolis Star via Newspapers.com
- The Indianapolis News via Newspapers.com
- “The Talk of Gasoline Alley”, 1070-WFNI-AM: May 11, 2017
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